Marwin Gonzalez didn’t think about what he was doing, didn’t weigh the risks and benefits to determine the best course of action.
He just dove.
Playing right field for only the 13th time in his eight-year career, Gonzalez stretched out, thrust his glove and snagged a line drive just above the grass in the ninth inning Saturday, a play he admitted later he might not have made if he had given it more thought.
That’s because the Twins led by only one run, there were no outs in the ninth inning, and the ball was hit by Kansas City’s Billy Hamilton, the fastest player in baseball this side of Byron Buxton.
“If I would have [thought about it], I would have probably waited and then catch it on one hop and throw to second,” Gonzalez said after the Twins held on to beat the Royals 5-4. “If I would have missed the ball, he was going to score. It’s a risky play.”
Yeah, his manager noticed.
“It’s pretty gutsy. If he goes after the ball and it gets by him, it’s a tough situation for us, obviously. Maybe the fastest player to play baseball in the last 20 years is running around the bases,” Rocco Baldelli said.
Then again, Baldelli added, having a speedster like Hamilton on base isn’t a great option, either, so maybe the risk was worth it.
Taylor Rogers thought so. As Gonzalez slid on the grass, the ball in his glove, “I was thinking that whoever put Marwin in that position was a genius,” the lefthander said. “Because he was obviously playing in and kind of over [toward where Hamilton hit it]. So yeah, that was great.”
Gonzalez also homered in the game and, um, dropped a fly ball, his second outfield error of the season. “I’m still learning about right field,” he said.
He learned plenty in the ninth: Don’t think. Just catch.
“At some point you just have to make a decision and go for it, and he did,” Baldelli said. “He did not go at that ball hesitantly. He was not scared one bit. He made a great play and basically saved the game for us.”
Buxton’s right wrist is intact, more tests Saturday reaffirmed, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt. Buxton, hit on the wrist by a Brad Keller fastball Friday, was not in the lineup a day later, and Baldelli said that might be the case for another day or two, just to be safe.
“He’s going to be a little sore for a couple of days. He’ll be available if we need him to go out there and play defense. He’s going to be available to run,” Baldelli said after posting a lineup with Max Kepler filling in for Buxton in center and Gonzalez taking Kepler’s usual spot in right. “I can’t answer ‘can he swing?’ yet because that’s going to take a little while to find out. He’s going to get a lot of treatment done.”
Saturday was the eighth time this season that Buxton did not start and the fourth time he did not play in a game at all.
He called it
threw him [batting practice] before the game. I thought he had a really good BP. And you just get that feeling,” the Twins pitching coach said. “I thought he first two at-bats, he just barely missed. So it was just my feeling.”
a feeling the Twins get a lot these days, especially at home. Garver’s homer on Friday extended the Twins’ streak of consecutive games with a home run to 12 straight, just four short of the franchise record.
at Target Field? The home team has gone deep in every game in May and June, 19 in all including Saturday, their longest home streak ever. Back in 1986, Twins hitters connected in the Metrodome — no wonder it was nicknamed the “Homerdome” — in 18 straight from April 16 to May 30.
“This is a great park for home run hitters down both lines,” said Gibson, who should know: The 51 he’s allowed here are the most by any pitcher in Target Field history.
• The Twins signed ninth-round pick Brent Headrick, a righthander from Illinois State. Along with sixth-rounder Sawyer Gipson-Long, a righthander from Mercer, and seventh-rounder Anthony Prato, a shortstop from UConn, who signed Friday, the Twins now have reached agreement with seven of the 11 players they took in the first 10 rounds.
• Willians Astudillo continues to demolish Class AAA. Demoted last week, he went 4-for-5 Friday and was 2-for-2 on Saturday when Rochester’s game with Charlotte was interrupted by rain. That brings his total to 17 hits in 27 at-bats, a .630 average that includes three home runs, one walk and one strikeout.